The Book! Scotland: Celebrations & Soul Food

Well people, it is finally here. My dream, my joy, my very first book, Scotland: Celebrations & Soul Food. This is my around the calendar, around the country tour of Scotland’s unique celebrations, complete with history, photographs and of course recipes to give you the full flavour of each event.

For those of you who have ever wondered what it was like to write a book and bring it to publication, the process is remarkably similar to having an actual baby. You hold an idea in you head, then in your heart, then you get busy, then you are in complete denial, and then you realise you have zero idea what you are doing and wonder if  it is all to late to back out now.  Additionally, since it takes roughly twice as long as a traditional pregnancy you are therefore obligated to gain twice as much weight! (Just kidding.)

The Long Awaited Book Cover

The Long Awaited Book Cover

But at long last the day arrives and you can hold your baby in your hands. I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was when she finally arrived.  I carefully counted her pages and after some tea and toast, quickly retired for a nap in sweet relief.

The Burning of the Clavie

The Burning of the Clavie

The book itself is packed with full-page images of many of the events. (Seriously people, you can not imagine how many things Scots can set on fire and in such an array of ways as to make a dragon blush!)

Layout with Handwriting, Text & Images

Layout with Handwriting, Text & Images

The production team at my publisher Matador were the most helpful, kind and creative support I could have ever hoped for.  Everyone was fantastic, but my hero Terry Compton in particular just took my manuscript and ran with it, far exceeding my expectations.  He combined a wide variety of image sizes with traditional text and then picked out the areas of ‘my voice’ to evoke a true travel journal feel. (I know a few of you have wondered if that is indeed my actual handwriting and the answer is ‘Let’s all Thank Heavens it is not’!)


Kelso Border Riding

Some of the events in the book are what you might expect in Scotland with bagpipe bands, kilts and castles…

4 Jarl Squad 2013 - 400

Lerwick Jarl Squad

and some are decidedly unexpected but spectacular none the less.


The Burry Man of South Queenferry

And then there are some that are just so freaky no one believes you until you actually produce photographic evidence.

6 Edinburgh Christmas - 400

Christmas Carousel in Edinburgh

For each event in our rock ‘n roll calendar, there are pictures, history, and eyewitness accounts.

6.5 Pheasant, Bacon & Port Bridies - 400

Pheasant Bridies with Bacon & Port

And then I had to go and create a recipes, with seasonal and regional ingredients to try to evoke the spirit of the event.

7 The May Queen - 400

The May Queen

So in order to honour the outrageous wildness of the Beltane celebrations,

Beltane Salmon on a Plank of Native Ash

Beltane Salmon on a Plank of Native Ash

There is a companion recipe of wild Scottish Salmon cooked on plank of Native Ash over an open flame (easy clean up for the dishes as well).

8.5 Jean & Jarl 400

Jeantopia Unleashed!

Basically this is my absolute dream come true of travel, adventure, history, parties and food!

Now, all of this is fine and well when it is kicking around your head or even when you are typing it up in your own dining room.  But when you have to then put it out there TO BE JUDGED BY OTHERS…the panic sets on hard.

9 Undiscovered Scotland Review - 400

My First Ever Review (*sniffs with pride*)

So it was with immense relief when (after I was brave enough to work up the courage to read it) my first ever review had some very nice things to say. (Just click on image for full size)  And not that I don’t value the opinions of my family and friends, but these guys didn’t even know me so were under no obligation to spare my frayed feelings.

10 Magazine cover - 400

Glossy Magazine Review

And then, big glossy magazines started to fall through my letter box.

11 review page - 400

The Company My Baby Keeps

And I could see not only my baby being cheered on, but got to see her nestled in amongst her mates. (How am I ever going to cope with my actual children leaving the nest, really?)

12 review - 400

Scots Heritage Magazine Review

And then, you realise that this wondrous dream has left your imagination and begun a life of its own.  And it is really, pretty cool to watch.

12.5 Local Author Flyer - 400

Marketing Material Ahoy!

So we are on to the next phase of the adventure where we will be taking things on the road.  With any luck you can catch us at one of our upcoming events at farmer’s markets, libraries and food festivals over the next few month.

In the mean time you can check out the official website for the book at for any news or events.

Thank you to everyone out there for your support, patience, help and encouragement in bringing this project to fruition.  It has been a total blast and hopefully will be the first of many such adventures!

Huge love,  Jean

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